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Full text of "The documentary history of insurance, 1000 B. C. - 1875 A. D"

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Mr. James S. Els ton 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

No. 5 



looo B.C. — 1875 A.D. 

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A comprehensive historical account of insurance would make an 
important and useful contribution to knowledge. Insurance within 
the past generation has assumed a position of enormous social and 
economic importance. As an element of commerce, insurance in all 
its branches has become indispensable. As a factor in human progress, 
insurance ranks foremost as a means of providing the required security 
against the inherent uncertainties of human life. The historical 
documents of insurance are evidence of its gradual development from 
primitive origins to a high degree of modern perfection in matters 
of detail. No branch of historical research is likely to prove of 
greater practical value than insurance. Every other social or eco- 
nomic institution is more or less related to its development. The place 
of insurance in the Law Merchant is well established by indisputable, 
though more or less fragmentary, documentary evidences. Research 
in this direction should bring to light much valuable information, 
useful not only to students of insurance, but also to those interested in 
the historical development of coinmerce and navigation. The evolu- 
tion of the fundamental principle of contributionship, which underlies 
all insurance, can be traced by an almost unbroken record from the 
Rhodian Sea Law, which dates from about 1000 B. C. The pres- 
ent effort is limited to a brief presentation of the salient facts 
of the history of this great institution from the earliest times 
to the establishment of Industrial insurance in America, in 1875. 
Within the unavoidable limitations of space it has not been feasible 
to do more than visualize the most interesting documentary evidences 
of insurance progress, with a due regard to the preeminent importance 
of the life insurance branch of the business, which in its totality has 
become universal and all-comprehensive throughout the civilized 
world. The forty charts shown on this occasion exhibit either the 
original documentary evidence of insurance methods or facsimile 
reproductions of original documents. It would obviously not have 
been feasible to have exhibited the original works on insurance 
in the library of The Prudential, many of which, if lost, could 
not be replaced. In a number of cases, however, original documents 
are shown and in some cases rare illustrations, which have probably 
never before been made public. The following brief descriptive ac- 
count refers to the forty charts, shown in five cases under glass for 
the proper protection of the exhibits. 

The Prudential Insurance Company of America 

Home Office, Newark, N. J. 


In the name of God, Amen. I, Georgius Lecavellum, 
citizen of Genoa, acknowledge to you, Bartholomeus 
Bassus, son of Bartholomeus, that I have received and 
accepted from you in Genoa, one hundred and seven 
pounds (of silver) as a free and friendly loan. I renounce 
every advantage in law of requiring proof of having ac- 
quired, accepted or counted said money. These one 
hundred and seven pounds, in Genoa, or its equivalent in 
money, I agree and promise in solemn covenant to return 
and restore to you or your acknowledged messenger by 
myself or my representative. 

Being well preserved and sound in mind, that if your 
ship, called the Santa Clara, which is now being prepared 
in the port of Genoa, God willing, to go and sail presently 
to Majorca, shall have gone and sailed, having been navi- 
gated by direct route from the port of Genoa to Majorca, 
shall have arrived at that place safe and sound before the 
expiration of the next six months coming, then in that 
case the present instrument is null and void as if it had 
not been made. I personally assume all the risk and re- 
sponsibility for said amount of money until said boat 
shall have arrived at Majorca, being navigated by direct 
route as above. And also if said boat shall be safe and 
sound in some other place, before said six months, the 
present instrument is likewise null and void as if it had 
not been made. And likewise if said boat shall have 
changed its course said instrument is null and void and 
as if it had not been made. 

In said manner and under said conditions I promise to 
make said settlement, otherwise I promise to you to pay 
and incur the penalty of double the stipulated amount 
of said money together with restitution of damages and 
expenses which may arise on that account or be sustained 
in litigation, the aforesaid remaining secure under the 
pledge and security of my property, goods and possessions. 

Made in Genoa, in a room in the house of Carlus and 
Bonifacus brothers of Ususmares, in the year from the 
birth of our Lord 1347, following the custom in Genoa, on 
the 23d. day October about eventide. 

Witnesses Nicolaus of Tacius, draper, and Johannes of 
Rachus son of Bonanatus a citizen of Genoa. 

•Chart No. 206. 

Chart No. 201 

The Rhodian Sea Law and the Principle of Contribution 
The Rhodian Sea Law, of which the original text, in part, has been 
preserved and made accessible in the great work of Ashburner, in 1909, 
provided, according to the English text, that "If a ship is caught in a 
storm and makes jettison of its cargo, and breaks its sailyards and mast 
and tillers and anchors and rudders, let all these come into contribu- 
tion together with the value of the ship and of the goods which are 
saved." This fundamental principle of contribution underlies all in- 
surance. As pointed out in the classical report of the first Committee 
on Friendly Societies (1825), "Wherever there is a contingency, the 
cheapest way of providing against it is by uniting with others, so 
that each man may subject himself to a small deprivation in order 
that no man may be subjected to a great loss." The Rhodian Sea Law 
is the most ancient principle governing commerce by sea which has 
been preserved and the law was in its time of such superior excel- 
lence that it was engrafted by the Romans into the Justinian Code, 
A. D. 533. According to the English text, "The Rhodian law provides, 
that, if goods are thrown overboard in order to lighten the ship, what 
is sacrificed for the common benefit should be made good by a common 
contribution." The Rhodian Sea Law was first quoted in an 
American Admiralty Decision of 1795, in the case of Thompson, 
Jacobson and others vs. the Ship Catherina, and thus made to 
apply as a ruling principle in American admiralty law, which may 
be said to govern the construction of all marine contracts of the 
present day. In addition to the Greek and Latin texts of the 
Rhodian Sea Law, the chart shows a map of the Island of Rhodes 
and a reproduction of the harbor, after the painting by Turner. 

Chart No. 202 


Burial Society {Collegium Cultorum Dianae et Antinoi), Lanuvium 

In 1816 in an excavation near Rome a tablet was found in the ruins of 

the Temple of Antinous which contains in their entirety the rules of 

*The date 1000 B, C. is only approximate. Some authorities place the earliest references to the 
Rhodian Sea Law at 900 B. C; others at a later period. The term is used either in the sing- 
ular or the plural. The Sea Law was first published in 1561. There are six chapters in the Sea Law 
which deal with maritime loans. Loans of this character "often resemble an ordinary loan upon a 
contingency." The principles of average, jettison, and contribution were thoroughly well understood 
in ancient times, and they all find expression in the Rhodian Sea Law. According to Ashburner, 
"There is no question here of a sacrifice for the common safety. It is only necessary that a loss shall 
occur in the course of the maritime adventure for which neither the owner of the property lost nor 
any other partaker in the maritime adventure can be held responsible. The result of the principle is 
that, by entering into the maritime adventure, you insul e to a certain extent the ship on which you 
sail and the goods of your co-adventurers, while on the other hand you are insured to the same extent 
by the owners of ship and the other goods on board." This properly constitutes the fundamental 
principle of all insurance. 


a burial society, as it now would be called, or, in the lyatin, a collegium, 
which appears to have combined social and economic functions on the 
principle of a stated contribution, primarily for the purpose of pro- 
viding for the decent and ceremonial burial of the dead. The chart 
shows, first, the original lyatin inscription as derived from the work 
by Mommsen* and, second, the English translation as given by Lam- 
bert in "Two Thousand Years of Gild Life." The chart also exhibits 
a map of the vicinity of Rome, indicating the location of Lanuvium, 
and a photographic reproduction of a sketch of a temple of the period, 
together with a portrait of the Emperor Hadrian, during whose reign, 
in the year 133 A. D., the society or gild seems to have been estab- 
lished. The great historical importance of this document consists 
in the evidence that at this early period the economic necessity of a 
mutual aid society was clearly recognized, for the gild at Lanuvium 
was but one of many typical of this period of the Roman Empire. 
Some of the rules of the gild of Lanuvium conform quite closely to 
the regulations of the English gilds of the 13th and 14th centuries, 
which, though derived from preexisting Anglo-Saxon institutions, 
may quite probably have in part had their origin in these ancient 
Roman institutions, which may have been brought to England dur- 
ing the period of the Roman invasion. f 

Chart No. 203 

Roman Life Table for the Calculation of Annuities and Perpetuities 
In a letter addressed to the late Sheppard Homans, a well-known 
actuary of his time. Justice J. P. Bradley, of the United States Su- 
preme Court, and at one time the actuary of the Mutual Benefit Life 
Insurance Company, contributed a brief historical account of a 
Roman Life Table derived from the Justinian Pandects, attributed to 
Ulpian, a great lawyer of the period and himself one of the most 
eminent commentators on the Justinian Code. It is not known upon 
what basis this table was constructed, but it conforms in a general 
way to the observed law of human decrement with increasing age. 
The chart shows the Ulpian Life Table, as expressed in Years Purchase 
as given in an article by Hendriks, contributed to the Journal of 
the Institute of Actuaries in 1851, together with an outline of the 

*Mommsen: "Sodales legem quam volent, dum ne quid expublica lege comirapant, sibi serunto." 
fFor suggestive references to the Anglo-Saxon gilds, see "The History of Crime in England," by 
L. Owen Pike, London, 1873, Vol. I, pp. 23 et seq. Also, "The History of the Anglo-Saxons," by Sharon 
Turner, Philadelphia, 1841, Vol. II, ch. 10, and, with special reference to burial ceremonies, ch. 14, 
Two additional works of great value m this' connection are a brief treatise on "The History and Develop- 
ment of Gilds," by Lujo Brentano, London, 1870, and the reprint of the original ordinances of more than 
one hundred early English gilds in the publications of the Early English Text Society, 1870, reprinted 
in 1892. (This volume also includes the essay by Brentano.) A brief but interesting discussion of 
Anglo-Saxon gilds occurs in the "Anglo-Saxon Home," by John Thrupp, London, 1862, pp. 160 et seq. 

Expectation of L,ife at the time of the Roman Kmpire, compared with 
the corresponding Expectation of Life for England and Wales for the 
decade ending with 1900. The chart also exhibits a reproduction of 
the text of Justice Bradley's letter and a brief supplementary note to 
the effect that "Ulpian's Table was officially authorized for the valua- 
tion of life annuities by the Tuscan Government in an Act passed 
under date of December 30, 1814. The table constructed by him 
was the most accurate and useful in existence until the close of the 
17th century. It is the first known measure of life annuity values, 
graduated with reference to age." 

Chart No. 204 

Compulsory Sickness Provision for Mariners 
These ancient sea laws established the principle of care and protection 
of seamen in sickness and distress. The Laws of Oleron, which is a 
small island off the coast of France, were first published in 1542, but 
they apparently date back to the early part of the 13th century. The 
Sea Laws of Wisbuy, which is an ancient town on the Island of Goth- 
land, in the Baltic Sea, date back approximately to the year 1288. 
Some writers- hold that they were more ancient than the Laws of 
Oleron. The first definite reference to insurance appears in Article 
LXVI in the Laws of Wisbuy, which reads that "If the merchant 
obliges the master to insure the ship, the merchant shall be obliged to 
insure the master's life against the hazards of the sea." "Here," in 
the words of Parsons, in his treatise on Maritime Law, "is a distinct 
recognition of the contract of insurance; and in terms which imply 
that it was familiarly known to mercantile persons." Article VII of 
the Laws of Oleron provided that "If it happens that sickness seizes 
on any one of the mariners, while in the service of the ship, the master 
ought to set him ashore, to provide lodging and candlelight for him, 
and also to spare him one of the ship-boys, or hire a woman to attend 
him, and likewise to afford him such diet as is usual in the ship ; that is 
to say, so much as he had on shipboard in his health, and nothing more, 
unless it please the master to allow it him; and if he will have better 
diet, the master shall not be bound to provide it for him, unless it be at 
the mariner's own cost and charges;" etc. The same provision occurs 
in other sea laws, including the Laws of Wisbuy, the Hanseatic Laws, 
the Sea Laws of the Low Countries, etc. It was thus that the compul- 
sory sickness provision for seamen became the universal rule of mari- 
time nations, and acting upon this principle, the United States Con- 
gress in 1798 established the United States Marine Hospital Service 
on the basis of compulsory deductions from seamen's wages * 

*Most of the ancient sea laws were reprinted in the treatise by Magens, first published in German, 
Hamburg, 1753, and subsequently in English, London. 1755. An excellent work of reference on the law 

Chart No. 205 

ENGI.AND, A. D. 1283-1385 

Gild Ordinances Regarding Burial and Support of the Poor 

The Gilds of the Middle Ages, as one of their functions, provided as a 
rule for the decent burial of their members and adequate support in 
sickness or poverty. Many original Gild ordinances have been pre- 
served and have been reprinted in the publications of the Early English 
Text Society, with an introduction by the late Toulmin Smith. The 
chart gives brief extracts from these ordinances, covering the period 
1283-1385, but all typical of the time. The extracts are derived 
from the article on Gilds in Walford's Cyclopaedia of Insurance. The 
Gilds were among the most ancient social institutions, and even in 
China they typify the spirit of Chinese philanthropy as the equivalent 
of applied doctrines of mutual aid. The Gilds, together with the 
monasteries, secret fraternities and hospitals under ecclesiastical ad- 
ministration, were abolished by Henry VIII in the year 1545, and their 
funds and possessions were confiscated by the state.* 

Chart No. 206 

ITALY, A. D. 1347 

The Earliest Known Contract of Insurance^ 

The reproduction of this contract is derived from an early translation 
of an ItaUan treatise on commerce based entirely on original documents 
discovered in the archives of Pisa. The carefully framed phraseology 
of the contract, dating from the middle of the 14th century, suggests 
that the practice of insurance by that time had become practically 
universal with the maritime nations of the period. The chart exhibits 
both the original Latin and the English translation of the text. 

of maritime commerce was published by James Reddie (London, 1S41), but the most useful source of 
information is the elaborate work of Pardessus, entitled "Collection des Lois Maritimes," a copy of 
which treatise, in seven volumes, is in the law library of The Prudential. The laws of Oleron were re- 
printed in the Black Book of the Admiralty, London, 1871, of which a copy is in the New York public 
library. The title page in the chart has been derived from this work. The laws of the United States 
for the government and regulation of seamen in the merchant service relating to this period, and the 
provision for compulsory insurance, are contained in the Appendix to the first volume of Peters' Ad- 
miralty Decisions, Philadelphia, 1807. 

*See in this connection "The Gilds of China," by H. B. Morse, London, 1909, "Die Gilden in den 
Holsteinischen Elbmarschen mit Besonderer Beriicksichtigung des Versicherungswesens," an inaugural 
dissertation by Julius Kahler, Itzehoe, 1904, and the "English Craft Gilds and the Government," by 
Stella Kramer, New York, 1905. The most recent discussion of the Gild system and its particular 
relation to the development of life insurance is to be found in "An Introduction to the History of Life 
Assurance," by Fingland Jack, London, 1912. 

fThis contract is printed in full in the original Italian, together with other important documents, in 
the chapter on Sales and Contracts of "An Essay on the Early History of the Law Merchant," by W. 
Mitchell, B. A., Cambridge, 1904. For English translation see page 4 of this publication. 

Chart No. 207 

ITALY, A. D. 1523 

Government Supervision of Insurance 

The development of marine insurance during the early part of the 16th 
century attained to such proportions that a more or less drastic form 
of government regulation of insurance practices became necessary. 
One of the earliest laws is the Ordinance of Florence, which was then 
one of the leading commercial powers, dated January 28, 1523. On 
account of its length, it has not been feasible to reproduce the original 
ordinance in its entirety, but the chart gives, first, the English transla- 
tion of a section, as derived from the classical work of Magens, second, 
a portion of the original Latin and an early German translation of 
the same, and, third, in English, a copy of the form of policy prescribed 
by this early ordinance, as a concrete illustiration of the relatively 
high degree to which the practice of insurance regulation had devel- 
oped by this time.* 

Chart No. 208 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1547-1686 

Early Marine and Fire Insurance Policies 

The practice of insurance, in the modern acceptance of the term, had 
its origin in Italy, particularly Lombardy and Florence. Through 
Italian merchants and navigators the practice of insurance was car- 
ried to England, the Low Countries and North Germany. The earliest 
existing insurance contract in England bears the date 1547, a large por- 
tion of the writing of which is in the Italian language. This poUcy 
is known as the "Broke Sea Insurance Policy," dated September 20, 
1547, and is reproduced in the Select Pleas in the Court of Admiralty, 
published by the Selden Society. The chart exhibits a photographic 
reproduction of the original document, made available through the 
courtesy of the Honorary Librarian to the Insurance Institute of 
Manchester, Mr. William Witt Blackstock. The chart also contains 
a facsimile reproduction of the eariiest known EngUsh fire policy, dated 
1686, and derived from the same source, in connection with a disserta- 
tion on the historical literature of sea and fire insturance in Great 
Britain, 1547-1810. The fire policy is of special significance in that 

*Aside from the work of Magens, the following are most valuable sources of information regarding 
the early history and practice of insurance: "A Complete Digest of the Theory, Laws, and Practice 
of Insurance," by John Weskett, Merchant, London, 1781 ; "The Universal Dictionary of Trade and 
Commerce," by Savary, translated and revised by Malachy Postlethwayt, London, 1751 (Vol. I) and 
1755 (Vol. II); "Lex Mercatoria Rediviva: or, The Merchant's Directory," by Wyndham Beawes 
London, 1752. See, also, in this connection, the extended historical introduction on insurance in the 
treatise on "The Law and Practice of Marine Insurance," by John Duer, New York, 1845. 

it is in printed form, so that obviously at this early date the practice 
of fire insurance had attained to considerable proportions.* 

Chart No. 209 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1S60-1793 
The Development of Early Friendly Societies 
After the destruction of the Gilds by Henry VIII, numerous small 
mutual-aid societies came into existence, chiefly for the purpose of 
providing for the decent burial of departed members. The earliest 
known of these societies was The Incorporation of Carters, dating 
from the year 1560, which, according to Walford, "was probably pre- 
viously a Gild, which, losing some of its privileges, reconstituted itself 
into an Association in the nature of a Friendly Society." The chart 
gives several other typical illustrations of such- societies, down to the 
year 1719, and an extract from an Act passed in 1757, providing for a 
system of compulsory sickness insurance, limited to laborers employed 
in the unloading of vessels, and requiring the compulsory deduction of 
two shillings in the pound (sterling) out of the wages earned, which was 
considered sufficient to provide for the needs of widows and orphans 
of deceased laborers and for the burial of the dead. The first hypoth- 
esis of a law of sickness was advanced by Dr. Price in 1789, and 
in 1 793 the first regulative Act was passed by Parliament, known as 
the Rose Act, for the protection and encouragement of Friendly 
Societies in the United Kingdom. The extracts given in the chart 
establish the historic continuity of the Friendly Society movement 
and the development of these useful institutions out of preexisting 
Gilds and Fraternities. All of the extracts reproduced are from 
the article on Friendly Societies in Walford' s Insurance Cyclopaedia, f 

Chart No. 210 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1601 
Origin of Government Supervision of Insurance in England 
This is an exceptionally interesting chart; including a facsimile repro- 
duction of the first Act passed by Parliament for the regulation of in- 

*The best account of early fire insurance companies and practice is a treatise by Charles Povey, 
compiled by Francis Boyer Relton, late Office Secretary of the Sun Fire Office. London, 1893. 

tThere is a mass of historical information regarding Friendly Societies in the reports of the Royal 
Commission on Friendly Societies, London, 1870-1874. Among extremely interesting early docu- 
ments in the library of The Prudential are the following: "An Appeal to the Public on the General 
Utility of Benefit Societies, Instituted by and for the Relief of Their Respective Members," etc., 
London, 1792; "Tables Showing the Amount of Contributions for Providing Relief in Sickness 
and Old Age, for Payments at Death, and Endowments for Children, Computed by John Finlaison." 
London, 1833; "Report on Friendly or Benefit Societies, exhibiting the Law of Sickness, as Deduced 
from Returns by Friendly Societies in Different Parts of Scotland. . . Drawn up by a Committee 
of the Highland Society of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1824; "A Proposal for' Improving the System of 
Friendly Societies, or, of Poor Assurance Offices," etc., by Jerome Count de Sails, London, 1814. An 
exceptionally useful work in connection with the study of Friendly Societies is "The History, Present 
Position, and Social Importance of Friendly Societies," by Charles Hardwick, London. 1859. 


surance through a Court of Assurances. The Act was passed in the 
year 1601, or the 43d Elizabeth, which is also memorable as the year 
in which the English Poor I^aw came into being. The facsimile is 
derived from the survey of Historical I/iterature on Sea and Fire In- 
surance in Great Britain, by William Witt Blackstock. The chart 
also contains a reproduction of the parliamentary debates in connec- 
tion with the bill estabUshing a Court of Assurances, the same hav- 
ing been introduced by Sir Francis Bacon, who probably drafted the 
bill, which on its second reading was committed to Sir Walter 
Raleigh. It has seemed appropriate to reproduce the portraits of 
these two distinguished Englishmen, whose names are inseparably 
connected with the history of England, and also, as is here shown, 
with the history of insurance.* 

Chart No. 211 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1622-1685 
Insurance as an Element of A ncient Commerce 
Insurance as an element of the ancient Law Merchant, or Lex Mer- 
catoria, appears to have received its first systematic consideration by 
an English authority in a work pubhshed in 1622, of which a copy 
of the third edition, published in 1685, is the only one available in 
this country. The chart shows photographic reproductions of the 
more important pages of this work, obtained through the courtesy 
of the New York Public Library. The author of the work was Gerard 
Malynes, a merchant, who, aside from other matters, discussed in 
considerable detail the origin and practice of insurance, attributing 
the same to the Roman's and subsequently to the Italians, who brought 
the custom first to the knowledge of the inhabitants of Oleron and 
later to England, where marine insurance became established among 
the merchants, who then met chiefly in Lombard Street. This gave 
rise subsequently to the phrase common to all early English and 
American marine insurance policies, that the interpretation of the 
contract should be in conformity to the practice and usages of 
Lombard Street. According to Blackstock, Malynes was a merchant 
of considerable reputation at the close of the 16th century and he 
attended the Committee on the Insurance Bill of 1601, establishing 
the Court of Assurances. This work is of great historical and practi- 
cal importance and one of the first publications on insurance. 

•For additional information regarding this Court of Assurances see Walford's Insurance Cyclopedia, 
article "Chambers of Insurance." Also, Park's System of Marine Insurance, Vol. I, p. xi, and Wam- 
baugh, "Cases on Insurance," which gives in full the act establishing the Court of Commissioners. 
For a fairly full account see Postlethwayt's "Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce," London, 
1751 and 1755. and the "Lex MercatoriaRediviva," by Wyndham Beawes, London, 1752. An mteresting 
letter with reference to the early practice of insurance, originaUy published m the Post Magazine 
and Insurance Monitor, of London, July 25, 1908, has been reprinted in my "Insurance Science 
and Economics," New York, 1911, p. 151. 


Chart No. 212 

Early Insurance Law, Custom and Usage 
In 1622 there was published at Cologne, Germany, an elaborate 
treatise on Commerce and Insurance, the title page of which, in a 
free translation, reads in part, "Decisions and Various "Treatises on 
Trade and on matters pertaining to the same; in which are contained 
the writings and compositions of all authors previously referred to, 
principally Benvenutus Stiraccha, a most eminent lawyer, who has 
written on Commerce, Exchange, Agreements, Creditors, Sureties, 
Debtors, Bankrupts, Ships, Shipping, Insurance, Sales by Auction, 
and other affairs of trade; at the same time also are explained mat- 
ters which are likely to arise in daily practice in connection with these 
topics. Now for the first time here in Germany they have been ar- 
ranged in a new publication in the best way, enlarged for the con- 
venience of those skilled in the law, compiled in a volume, and 
published with variety of styles and with separate imperial re- 
scripts." This venerable work is the oldest publication on insurance 
in the possession of The Prudential, and the chart exhibits the 
beautifully engraved title page, a photographic reproduction of the 
volume itself and the first page of the topical index. Of Straccha 
himself nothing appears to be known definitely, except that he was 
an Italian jurist of Ancona, who lived about the year 1550. A 
treatise on Insurance by Straccha was published in Amsterdam in 
1658, in Latin. The work is an excellent illustration of the practical 
importance of insurance as an element of early commerce and its 
recognition as such by the most eminent jurists and merchants of 
the time. 

Chart No. 213 

HAMBURG, GERMANY, A. D. 1628-1750 
Early German Insurance Practice 
The practice of insurance, having been developed to a considerable 
extent in Italy, was carried by the Italians first to the Netherlands, 
particularly to the great city of Bruges, which appears to have been 
the first center of northern commerce to recognize the practical utility 
of the insurance contract. There are records of insurance policies 
dating from the year 1359, in Italian, contracting for insurance be- 
tween Genoa, Naples, etc., and Bruges. In the commercial trans- 
actions of the period 1444—1459 the insurance contract is called the 
"assurance obligation." In the year 1469 the expression "letter of 
assurance" is used and during the period 1468-1470 the term "assur- 
ance policy," or, in brief, "policy," came into use. In the original 
Italian, the expression was "scritta di siqurta." From the Nether- 

lands the practice of insurance was carried to the Free City of Ham- 
burg, then one of the most important members of the Hanseatic 
I/eague. The chart shows a reproduction of a pohcy of the year 
1628, the printed portion of which is in the Dutch text, and the 
written portion of which is in the Low German of the period.* The 
chart further shows a printed reproduction of the earliest known life 
and ransom policy, of about the year 1750, in the original German, 
as well as in the English translation, derived from the work of Magens. 
The practice of ransom insurance became subsequently well estab- 
lished in the United States for the protection of American captains 
trading on the Barbary coast of the Mediterranean. f 

Chart No. 214 

HOLLAND, A. D. 1671-1749 
The beginning of modern life insurance may be said to date from the 
time when John De Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, and one of 
the foremost statesmen of the period, published his "Observations on 
Life Annuities," translated by Robert Gibbons Barnwell, U. S. Consul 
in Amsterdam in 1856, and published in New York, that year. The 
treatise by De Witt established the superior importance of strict con- 
formity to the law of mortality in the calculations of premiums for 
insurance and the required consideration in life insurance finance 
of the principles of compound interest. De Witt was followed by 
other eminent Hollanders, who contributed much towards the theory 
of life contingencies, and the portraits of Huygens and Struyck are 
reproduced in this chart, together with a facsimile of a painting of 
the year 1749, commemorating the public and highly ceremonial 
establishment of a widows' fund.f 

Chart No. 215 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1677-1800 

Lombard Street, London 

Lombard Street appears to have been the meeting-place of London 

merchants from a time considerably anterior to the year 1547, which 

*A full account of the early insurance history of the Hanse towns, by F. Plass and F. R. Ehlers, was 
published in Hamburg in 1902. The replica of the Hamburg policy of 1750 shown on this chart is from 
this work. 

tFor an explanation of the custom of Ransom Insurance, see page 304, "Lex Mercatoria Rediviva,' ' 
by Wyndham Beawes, London, 1752. 

{Additional references to John De Witt and the early insurance history of Holland are the following : 
"John DeWitt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, or Twenty Years of a Parliamentary Republic," by M. 
Antonin Lef^vre Pontalis, translated by S. E. and A. Stephenson, 2 vols., London, 1885; "Memoires 
pour Servir a L'Histoire des Assurances sur la Vie et des Rentes Viageres aux Pays-Bas," published by 
the Soci^td G&erale N^erlandaise d' Assurances sur la Vie et de Rentes Viageres, Amsterdam, 1898: 
"Les Oeuvres de Nicolas Struyck" (1687-1769), translated from the Dutch by J. A. VoUgrafl, published 
by the Soci^td G6n6rale Nderlandaise d'Assurances sur la Vie et de Rentes Viageres, Amsterdam, 1912; 
"Johan deWitt enZijnTijd," by H. S. M. Van Wickevoort Crommelin, published by the "Conserva- 
trix" Life Insurance Company, Amsterdam, 191.3. 


is the date of the Broke policy, the oldest existing insurance contract 
in England. A clause in the contract reads, in the quaint English 
oi the period: 

"It is to be understoode that this preasente writinge hathe as muche 
forse as the beste made or dieted byll of surance which is used to be made 
in this Lombarde Streets of London." 

Italian traders and immigrants to England during the 1 3th and 
14th centuries had mostly come from Lombardy, in northern Italy, 
and it is a safe assumption that, being chiefly merchants, money- 
changers, pawn-brokers, etc., they brought with them the practice 
of insurance, just as they are deemed to have introduced bills of 
exchange.* By 1677 Eombard Street had become the established 
center of insurance, and the reference in English marine insurance 
policies to the customs and usages of Lombard Street has continued 
to the present day. The chart shows two ancient maps of Lombard 
Street, dating from 1677, and several pictorial illustrations of the 
street and its buildings down to the early part of the 19th century. 

Chart No. 216 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1680-1914 
The history of Lloyd's is, in a large measure, the history of marine 
insurance. This name is derived from the Coffee House kept by Mr. 
Edward Lloyd, in Tower Street, London, in the 17th century, where 
underwriters met to transact their business. In 1692 Lloyd's Coffee 
House was removed to Lombard Street, and in 1774 Lloyd's, which by 
this time had become an association of marine underwriters, left the 
Coffee House in Lombard Street for premises in the Royal Exchange, 
where it has continued in business to the present time. This chart is 
therefore of unusual historic interest. It includes a copy of a policy 
dated January 20, 1680, and preserved at Lloyd's, which, in modern 
English, emphasizes all of the essentials of the underwriting prac- 
tices of the period as they have been preserved and continued to 
the present time The term "underwriter" had its origin in the 
practice of each individual on assuming a portion of the risk to place 
his name under the policy opposite the amount of risk assumed. 
The chart also contains an excellent early lithograph of Lloyd's 
Subscription Room and pictures of the Royal Exchange of 1620 and 
1912. To the right of the chart is exhibited an original copy of 
Lloyd's Evening Post, dated February 9-11, 1785, containing a re- 
turn of the amount paid in taxes on policies of insurance, printed by 
order of the House of Commons. Below is a reprint of the earhest 

*The influence ot Lombard immigrants on tlie commerce and insurance of England is fully discussed 
in Martin's "History of Lloyd's," London, 1876, pp. 17-32. 

known Lloyd's policy issued in the United States, containing, with 
other names, the signature of Stephen Girard.* 

Chart No. 217 

FRANCE, A. D. 1681 
Marine Ordinances of Louis XIV 

This remarkable code ranks foremost in the documentary history of 
insurance. The world is indebted to the genius of Colbert, the cele- 
brated Minister of Finance of Louis XIV, for this formidable piece of 
legislation, of enduring value to the entire world. The code may be 
said to form the basis of French commercial law, and many of its 
excellent provisions were subsequently adopted by all other civilized 
countries. These ordinances appeai: first to have been quoted in 
American literature in the case of Morgan and Price vs. The Insurance 
Company of North America, decided by the Supreme Court of Penn- 
sylvania in 1807. The chart is of unusual interest and gives in detail 
extracts from the French and English texts relating to the contract of 
bottomry, the contract of marine insurance, the practice of life insur- 
ance and of ransom insurance, the former being unconditionally pro- 
hibited and the latter, as a matter of commercial necessity, being 
allowed. The chart also gives the original French text of the intro- 
duction, as contained in the classical collection Le Loi Maritimes, by 
J. M. Pardessus.f The chart is further illustrated by a portrait of 
Louis XIV and of M. Colbert. 

Chart No. 218 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1693 
The Breslau Table of Mortality 

The science of life insurance rests upon the fundamental principles 
of the law of mortality and compound interest. The fact that the 
chances of death vary with every year of life was not clearly recognized 
until the end of the 17th century. Ulpian's famous table of A. D. 220 
merely approximates the rate of mortality, though with some ap- 
proach to accuracy. A persistent effort to visualize the varying 
chances of death, f according to age and condition of life,may be seen in 

*For a full account of Uoyd's, see "The History of Lloyd's and of Marine Insurance in Great 6rit- 
ain," by Frederick Martin, London, 1876, and the sketch of "Lloyd's, Yesterday and To-day," by 
Henry M. Grey, London, 1893. For an interesting discussion of the origin of Lloyd's Coffee House 
and the use of Lombard Street for commercial and insurance purposes, see Wilson's "Description of the 
New Royal Exchange," London, 1844. "The Machinery of Lloyd's" has been fully described in two 
lectures by Sir Henry M. Hozier, the Secretary of Lloyd's, 1874-1906. 

t A complete English translation of this ordinance is contained in Volume I of the Admiralty Decisions 
in the District Court of the United States for the Pennsylvania District, by the Hon, Richard Peters, 
Philadelphia, 1807. This work also contains an English translation of the laws of Oleron and Wisbujr, 
as well as of the Hanse towns. 

tFot a brief discussion of certain problems of mortality, see an essay on "The Chances of Death 
and the Ministry of Health," Prudential Press, Newark, N. J., 1914. 

the pictorial representation of the Dance of Death during the Middle 
Ages. The first table of mortality in conformity to scientific princi- 
ples was constructed in the year 1693 by Edmund Halley, the famous 
astronomer, on the basis of the mortality returns of the city of 
Breslau, of the Province of Silesia, Germany. The resulting "estimate 
of the degrees of the mortality of mankind" was communicated by 
Halley to the Royal Society and subsequently published in the Philo- 
sophical Transactions. The chart shows, first, in part, a reprint of the 
original paper, second, a graphic demonstration of the law of mortality, 
as illustrated by the number, out of a thousand born, surviving to 
specified ages, as determined by Halley for the year 1693, and, third, the 
corresponding information for England and Wales for the period 1891— 
1900. The results are in marked contrast and establish the very con- 
siderable improvement in human longevity during the long intervening 
period of time. Finally, the chart, as a tribute to the author of the 
table, includes a portrait of Edmund Halley, of an early period of 
the art of steel engraving. Halley's Table of Mortality was specifi- 
cally constructed, as indicated by the table, for the purpose of pro- 
viding a scientific basis for the correct ascertainment of the cost and 
the principles of premium calculation in the assurance of lives. 

Chart No. 219 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1706 
The Amicable Society 
According to Walford, the formation of this society dates back to the 
24th of January, 1705, but it was not until the 25th of July in the fol- 
lowing year that the promoters, the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Sir Thomas 
Aelyn, Bart., and others, obtained from Queen Anne a charter (granted 
in the fifth year of her reign) "incorporating them and their successors, 
by the name above given, with power to purchase land, sue and be 
sued, and to have a common seal." This society was the first life 
insurance society established upon sound principles of mortality and 
finance, and though originally carried on with much difficulty, on 
account of the want of knowledge and lack of experience, the society 
enjoyed a prosperous career, until absorbed in the year 1866 by the 
Norwich Union Life Assurance Company. That the society at the 
outset was conceived as a trading concern is made evident by the 
inclusion of its original charter in the Collection of Select Charters of 
Trading Companies, A. D. 1530-1707, published by the Selden Society, 
London, 1913. It has not been feasible, on account of the length of 
this remarkable document, to reproduce the same in the chart, which 
shows among other interesting items a portrait of the Lord Bishop of 
Oxford, who was one of the founders of the society, a facsimile of the 
first contractual obligation in printed form, a pictorial illustration of 


the southeastern prospect of the Church of St. Dunstan in the West, 
opposite which "at Mr. Hartley's house," a bookseller, the society was 
established. The chart further includes a facsimile reproduction of 
the first table of mortality from the experience of the society, 
covering the period 1706-1777. All of these illustrations are derived 
from a memorial published by the Norwich Union I^ife Assurance 
Company in 1908. The history of the Amicable, together with that 
of the London Equitable, established in 1765, is to a considerable 
extent the history of life insurance during its formative period. 

Chart No. 220 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1725-1838 
Development of Actuarial Science 
Actuarial science comprehends that branch of applied mathematics 
which concerns itself with the periodical analysis of the experience of 
life insurance companies. Since the contracts entered into extend 
over a more or less extended period of years, coinciding in most cases 
with the subsequent after-lifetime of the insured, the ascertainment of 
the present value of the existing obligation is necessarily a somewhat 
complex and difficult process. Originally, in Roman courts of 
justice, an actuary was a person, according to Walford, "who drew up 
writings, contracts, etc., in the presence of the magistrate, whence his 
name, from "actus," an instrument. Subsequently, in the early years 
of insurance, the term "actuary" was more or less indifferently em- 
ployed by persons familiar with mathematics and accounting, but as a 
rule not essentially with the actual practices and experience of life 
insurance institutions. With the rise of the business to considerable 
magnitude, the position of the actuary became better defined, and it is 
now strictly limited to an officer of an insurance company trained to 
apply the doctrine of mathematical problems to the needs of the life 
insurance business, inclusive of practically all the questions and con- 
siderations, whether legal or financial, which affect the insurance con- 
tract and have a bearing upon the correct valuation of policies, the 
adequate protection of the insured, the safeguarding of public interests 
and the required modifications from time to time of the methods 
employed. The official status of the actuary is, by modern usuage, 
limited to persons who are members of recognized actuarial institutions 
or societies. 

The development of actuarial science coincides, for practical pur- 
poses, with the history of life insurance. The chart contains facsimiles 
of nine standard works on the valuation of annuities and reversions, 
life contingencies, etc., published during the period 1725-1838. The 
earliest of these in the library of The Prudential is the treatise by De 
Moivre on "Annuities upon Lives : or. The Valuation of Annuities upon 


any Number of Ivives ; as also, of Reversions. To which is added, An 
Appendix concerning the Expectations of Life, and Probabilities of 
Survivorship," pubHshed, London, 1725. Other important works 
are by Thomas Simpson, 1742, James Hodgson, 1747, Baron Francis 
Maseres (a friend of Benjamin Franklin), 1783, Francis Bailey, who 
in time became a leading authority, 1811, Benjamin Gompertz, who 
was the discoverer of new principles of the law of mortality and a new 
mode of determining the value of life contingencies, 1825, Charles 
Babbage, a learned authority on the practice of insurance, 1826, Fran- 
cis Corbaux, who on the basis of original researches established new 
natural and mathematical laws concerning population, vitality and 
mortality, 1833, and, finally, Augustus de Morgan, one of the most re- 
markable men of his time, who, in 1838, published a famous "Essay 
on Probabilities, and their Application to Life Contingencies and 
Insurance Offices."* 

Chart No. 221 

First Insurance Institution in America 
The first insurance institution established in the United States was 
the Friendly Society for the Mutual Insuring of Houses against Fire, 
organized under a Royal Charter, in Charleston, S. C, in the year 1735 . 
The South Carolina Gazette contains frequent advertisements and 
notices of this society during the period beginning with November 
15, 1735, and ending with February 19, 1741. The list of persons 
connected with the enterprise includes the names of some of the most 
prosperous and prominent men of what was then the Province of 
South Carolina. On November 18, 1740, a conflagration occurred 
which consumed half of the town. The loss was estimated at one 
and a half mi,llion dollars, arid over three hundred houses were de- 
stroyed. This fire, in all probability, proved ruinous to the society, 
regarding which nothing is known subsequently to February 19, 1741. 
No policy or other documentary records appear to have been preserved, 
but the original agreement was, fortunately, printed in full in the South 
Carolina Gazette of September 27, 1735. A facsimile photographic 
reproduction of this agreement is shown on this chart. A brief ac- 

*Among other extremely interesting early works on actuarial' science and related subjects are the 

"The Doctrine of Annuities and Assurances on Lives and Survivorships," by the Rev. Dr. Price, 
London, 1779; "The Principles of the Doctrine of Life-Annuities," by Francis Maseres, London, 1783; 
"The Doctrine of Permutations and Combinations, being an Essential and Fundamental Part of the 
Doctrine of Chances; as it is delivered by Mr. James Bernoulli," etc., published by Francis Maseres, 
London, 1795 (Maseres was the author of "The Principles of the Doctrine of Life-Annuities," pub- 
lished London, 1783); "A Practical Treatise upon the Law of Annuities," by Robert Withy, London, 
1800; "The Doctrine of Interest and Annuities Analytically Investigated and Explained," by Francis 
Baily, London, 1808, "Tables for Renewing and Purchasing of Leases, Annuities, and Reversions," 
by Sir Isaac Newton (sixth edition), London, 1808. The third edition of this work was published 
in 1 729, "Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilit^s," by M. Le Marquis de Laplace, Paris, 1825. 


count of the society was published in the South Carolina Historical 
and Genealogical Magazine ioT 1907* 

Chart No. 222 

Early Boston Marine Insurance Policies 
In the natural course of its development, insurance as an element of 
commerce was carried from England to the colonial possessions of that 
country in America. The earliest existing American insurance con- 
tract is a policy issued in Boston on the 13th day of March, 1746, at 
an insurance office kept in King Street, near the Ivong Wharf, by an 
underwriter by the name of Dowse. This policy contains the custom- 
ary reference to Lombard Street and the Royal Exchange. After the 
Revolution, this clause was eliminated from American policies and in 
place thereof, in a contract issued in Boston in 1784, the clause reads 
"And it is agreed by us, the insurers, that this Writing or Policy of 
Assurance shall be of as much Force and Effect as the surest Writing 
or PoUcy of Insurance heretofore made in any of the United States 
of America, or else- where." The chart contains facsimile repro- 
ductions of pohcies issued in 1746, 1784 and 1800, all typical of the 
period and representative of individual underwriting practices com- 
mon to the country previously to the rise of insurance corporations. 
The facsimiles are from "An Account of the Early Insurance Offices 
in Massachusetts from 1724 to 1801," published in 1901, by E. R. 
Hardy, librarian of the Insurance Library of Boston. 

Chart No. 223 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1752-1782 
Insurance as an Element of Commerce and Public Finance 
The place of insurance in the development of commerce and navigation 
is of such exceptional importance that the present chart has been in- 
cluded, additionally to other evidence, in support of the view that, by 
custom and usage, throughout the centuries, insurance has been an 
integral factor in the progress of commerce and navigation. In 1752 
an important work was issued in London under the title "Lex Merca- 
toria Rediviva: or, The Merchant's Directory. Being a Compleat 
Guide to all Men in Business, whether as Traders, Freighters, In- 
surers, etc." The author of the work was Wyndham Beawes, mer- 
chant. The work was published with the approval of George II, who 
granted in return for its value a copyright for fourteen years. The 
chart, in addition to the royal authority and the title page, shows 
facsimiles of the Act of George III relating to stamp duties on pohcies 

♦See also my "Insurance Science and Economics,"?. 170,ajid The Spectator, N. Y., Dec. 31, 1914. 


of insurance on property "in any Foreign Kingdom or State from Loss 
by Fire." 

Chart No. 224 

FNGLAND, A. D. 1756-1828 
Early History of the London Equitable Society 
The London Equitable is at the present time the oldest existing life 
insurance corporation in the world. The Amicable, established in 
1706, was absorbed by the Norwich Union in 1866. The Equitable 
has the unique distinction of never having employed agents, which 
largely accounts for the relatively small amount of insurance written 
during the long intervening period of years. The experience of the 
Society, however, has been invaluable to life insurance throughout the 
world. The chart is limited to a reproduction of four title pages of 
historical publications, dated 1756, 1780, 1823 and 1828.* The mor- 
tality experience of the Equitable Society, according to Walford, 
"was the first pure life experience, as distinguished from annuitants 
and tontine lives, which became available for actuarial purposes." The 
first actuary of the Society was Mr. W. Morgan, who, in 1779, pub- 
lished a treatise on Annuities, and subsequently an introduction to 
the classical "Observations on Reversionary Payments," by the cele- 
brated Dr. Richard Price. The chart also exhibits a diagram con- 
structed after a table showing the probability of the duration of 
human life, according to the experience of the Equitable, published 
in 1828. 

Chart No. 225 

NEW YORK, A. D. 1759-1800 
The Early New York Coffee Houses and Insurance 
The early insurance transactions were chiefly carried on in Coffee 
Houses, which were then the convenient meeting-places of merchants 
and navigators. They were exclusively individual transactions, each 
underwriter assuming a given portion of the total amount at risk. 
Sometimes a group of underwriters would call themselves a company, 
but it was not until 1792 that the first American insurance corporation 
came into existence. In New York City the Merchants' Coffee House 
was a center of insurance activity, as shown in the chart by the fac- 
simile reproduction of a tablet recently erected under the auspices of 
the Lower Wall Street Business Men's Association. There has been 
preserved an advertisement of the so-called Mutual Assurance Com- 
pany of New York, dated April 2, 1785, inserted by Carlie PoUick, of 

*For a number of interesting historical references to tlie early history of the Equitable Society, see 
my lectures on the History of Insurance, published in the Life Insurance Educator, November and 
December, 1913, and January, 1914. 


the Commercial Insurance Office, which reads "Fire Office — the Scheme 
of an Institution under the name of 'The Mutual Assurance Company 
of New York' for insuring houses and merchandise against loss or dam- 
age by iire, will be submitted to the citizens at the Long Room in the 
Coffee House on Friday next." According to Mr. A. Wakeman, the his- 
torian of the old Merchants' Coffee House of New York, "As early 
as 1759 insurance business was carried on at the Coffee House. Business 
was done twice a day, morning and evening." The chart shows a 
lithograph of the famous Coffee House Slip and Coffee House of New 
York, and also an illustration of lower Wall Street in 1800, showing 
the Tontine Coffee House on one side and the Merchants' Coffee House 
on the other. The following historical note regarding the business 
of Tontine insurance is from Valentine's Manual of the Common 
Council of New York, 1866: 

"The Tontine Coffee-house, on the northwest corner of Wall and 
Water streets, was commenced about the year 1792 by an association 
of merchants, and finished in 1794, at a cost of about $43,000, its 
professed object being to provide a convenient place of meeting for the 
merchants. It was erected on the northwesterly corner of Wall and 
Water streets, and was considered in its day a creditable piece of archi- 
tecture. The ownership was estabhshed on the Tontine principle of 
survivors. Two hundred and three shares were subscribed for at 
^200 per share, each depending on a life selected by the several sub- 
scribers, who stated in a memorandum, at the time of subscription, 
the age, parentage, and sex of the nominee during whose existence he 
was entitled to receive his share of the net income of the establishment. 
On the death of the nominee the interest of the subscriber ceased, and 
his share became merged in those remaining. The shares were as- 
signable and held as personal estate. The property being vested in 
trustees to hold until the nominees were reduced to seven, when the 
holders of the shares became entitled to a conveyance in fee in equal 

The lithograph in the chart of the New York Tontine Coffee 
House is derived from the same source. 

Chart No. 226 

Early Annuity Plans and Projects 
The first life insurance efforts in America, as in England, were plans 
and projects for annuities. The need of providing for aged clergymen 
and their widows early suggested the establishment of ecclesiastical 
annuity societies. The earliest known project of this kind in England 
was started in 1698 by the Rev. William Assheton, D.D., Rector of 
Middleton in Lancashire, for the benefit of widows of clergymen and 


others and for the settling of jointures and annuities. The first cor- 
responding effort of this kind in the United States was the Presby- 
terian Ministers' Fund, established in the city of Philadelphia in 1761. 
A facsimile of a contract issued by this Fund in what was then the 
Province of Pennsylvania, dated May 22, 1761, is reproduced in 
the chart, together with three title pages of documents of considerable 
historical importance. Under date of February 7, 1769, the pro- 
prietors of the Province of Pennsylvania had issued a charter for the 
establishment of a "Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children 
of Clergymen of the Communion of the Church of Fngland in 
America. " The chart shows the facsimile of the title page of a sermon 
by the Rev. William Smith, D.D., delivered in Philadelphia in 1769, 
published by order for the benefit of the charity, and also a title page 
of an exceedingly rare tract, issued in Boston in 1772, being the plan 
of a society for making provision for widows by annuities for the 
remainder of life and for granting annuities to persons of certain ages, 
with the proper tables, etc., by William Gordon. The Presbyterian 
Ministers' Fund continued as an ecclesiastical corporation until 1876, 
when the same was converted into a business corporation, which has 
cbntinued in active and successful operation to the present day. 
The first American life insurance company, properly so-called, was 
the Pennsylvania Company for Insurances on I/ives, established in 
the year 1812. 

Chart No. 227 
ENGLAND, A. D. 1774-1854 
Early English Law and Litigation 
The development of insurance law naturally coincides with the growth 
of insurance as a commercial and social institution. Abuses and fraud 
were common to insurance during the early period, largely because of 
the fact that the principles and methods were but imperfectly under- 
stood. Miscalculations in premium rates frequently led to disaster, 
and harsh policy provisions were often essential as much for the pro- 
tection of the public as for the security of the insuring company. In 
1774 the first notable act for regulating insurance upon lives was passed 
by Parliament, under which all insurances were prohibited, excepting 
cases in which the persons insuring had an interest in the life or death 
of the person insured. This act is known as the Gambling Act and 
in the chart the same is reproduced in full, though not in facsimile. 
That the principles of the Gambling Act have become adopted in 
American law and legislation is made evident by the fact that the 
principle of insurable interest, as a condition precedent to the legality 
of the contract, has become universal throughout the world. In 
addition to the reproduction of the Gambling Act, the chart shows 

facsimiles' of the title pages of five interesting tracts, including a full 
account of the proceedings in a case regarding pulmonary consump- 
tion, a report of the classical case of the Rev. Robert Gilbert vs. M. 
M. Sykes, being an action brought by the plaintiff to recover a sum 
of money won on the life of Napoleon, being purely a speculation 
dependent upon the duration of the Emperor's life. The other title 
pages include a treatise on the Law of Fire and Life Assurance, by 
Charles EUis, issued in 1832, a controversial tract regarding an attack 
upon the Professional Life Assurance Company, by Edward Baylis, 
1853, and a classical treatise on the Law of Life Assurance, by Charles 
John Bunyon, London, 1854. 

Chart No. 228 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1783 
Northampton Table of Mortality 
The author of the Northampton Table was the Rev. Richard Price, 
who in 1771 published the first edition of his famous "Observations on 
Reversionary Payments," containing, with other instructive data on 
insurance, two tables of mortality based on the accounts of the ages at 
death of persons who had been buried in the Parish of All Saints, 
Northampton. In 1783 the fourth edition of the work was published 
in a more comprehensive form, with tables of money values for life 
insurance purposes, deduced from the Northampton Table of Mortal- 
ity. As shown by the chart, the expectation of life was assumed to be 
very low and the resulting premium rates were, therefore, excessive, 
except for tropical countries. The Northampton Table continued in 
force for many years and it is occasionally employed at the present 
time. In 1815 Mr. Joshua Milne constructed a new table from the 
mortality data of the Parishes of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert, Carlisle, 
for the years 1780-1787. At the time of its publication the table was a 
decided improvement on the Northampton Table, its chief defect in 
connection with its use for life insurance purposes being the erroneous 
assumption regarding the proportion of the sexes, but otherwise the 
premium rates cloSfely approximate the required degree of accuracy. 
The Carlisle and Northampton Tables were based upon data de- 
rived from locaUties not necessarily typical or representative of the 
United Kingdom. It was not until 1843 that the first life table based 
upon the census returns and deaths for the whole of England and Wales 
was pubUshed, followed by a second table, in 1853, and a third, for the 
period 1835-1854, in 1864. The author of these tables was Dr. 
WilHam Farr, of the Registrar-General's Office, and Table No. 3 
subsequently became known as Farr's Life Table, and as such it has 
been recognized as a standard for valuation purposes in connection 
with Industrial insurance. The chart is limited to a diagram iUus- 

trating the mortality curve, as deduced from the Northampton experi- 
ence, together with the expectation of life for England and Wales for 
1891-1900. In addition, the chart shows a title page of the work of 
Price on Reversionary Payments (1783 edition) and a portrait of Dr. 

Chart No. 229 

Insurance in American Arithmetic and Accounting 
In its final analysis, insurance in all its branches is more a matter of 
simple arithmetic than of higher mathematics. From comparatively 
early times it has been the practice to include insurance problems in 
text -books on arithmetic, bookkeeping and accounting. The chart 
gives in facsimile the title page of the first American treatise on arith- 
metic, by Nicolas Pike, published at Newbury-Port, in 1788. Two 
pages of the contents are also reproduced, illustrating calculations in 
marine insurance and problems in annuities or pensions. The second 
insert on the chart is a facsimile title page of "The Counting- House 
Assistant," published in Pittsburgh, in 1818, also illustrated by a re- 
production of the contents, in which insurance is included as one of the 
subjects of maritime law. The third insert is a reproduction of the 
title page of "A System of Practical Arithmetic for the Use of Schools; 
Adapted to the Commerce of the United States," by J. Walker, pub- 
lished in Baltimore, in 1819. From this interesting work four pages 
of the contents are reproduced, showing the expectation of life 
according to the Northampton Table of Mortality and problems in 
the calculation of life annuities. The fourth insert is the title page 
of a treatise on the Laws of Trade, by Jacob B. Moore, published, 
New York, 1840, with abstracts of the Bankruptcy Bill of 1840, then 
under consideration by the Assembly of the State of New York, in- 
cluding a suggestive reference to insurance. 

Chart No, 230 


Law and Legislation 

The first treatise on the law of insurance published in the United 
States was issued in Philadelphia in 1789, being a reprint of the 
"System of the Law of Marine Insurances," with three chapters, on 
Bottomry, on Insurances on Lives, and on Insurances against Fire, by 
James Allan Park. Numerous editions of this work exist, but the title 
page reproduced is of the first American edition. In 1810 the second 
edition (American) of an English treatise on the Law of Insurance, by 
Samuel Marshall, was published in Philadelphia. This work includes 


numerous references to American cases, and the work was a standard 
work of reference for many years. What appears to be the first 
United States document on insurance was issued in the form of a 
Letter from the .Secretary of the Treasury, transmitting a statement 
containing information in relation to the Incorporated Banks and In- 
surance Companies within the District of Columbia [1814]. An equally 
interesting document of historical importance, particularly with ref- 
erence to the commercial aspects of insurance, is a tract entitled "An 
Argument in Support of the Marine Insurance Companies of Baltimore 
to the Congress of the United States, Praying Compensation for 
Losses Sustained under the treaty with Spain of the 22d of February, 
1819," by Robt. B. Taylor, published, Norfolk, 1826. The first 
Treatise on the Law of Insurance by an American author was published 
in a second edition in 1840. The author of this work was Willard 
Phillips, who subsequently became a commanding figure in the de- 
velopment of insurance in New England. The work was published 
in Boston. Of even greater importance in the development of Ameri- 
can insurance law and legislation was the issue in 1845 of an elaborate 
treatise on the Law and Practice of Marine Insurance, deduced from a 
critical examination of the Adjudged Cases, the Nature and Analogies 
of the Subject and the General Usage of Commercial Nations by John 
Duer, LL. C one of the late revisers of the statute laws of New York. 
This woirk was published in two volumes in 1845 and to this day consti- 
tutes a standard work of reference in the settlement of difficult and 
involved questions in marine insurance law.* In 1850 appeared a work 
on Admiralty, by Erastus C. Benedict, which included an extremely 
suggestive historical reference to insurance in a commission of Vice 
Admiralty, issued to the Hon. Richard Morris, dated October 15, 1762, 
which reads, in part, as follows : 

"George the Third, by the grace oj God,, of Great Britain, France and 
Ireland, King, defender of the faith: To our beloved Richard Morris, 
Esquire, greeting: We do by these presents, make, ordain, nominate and 
appoint you, the said Richard Morris, Esquire, to be our Commissary in 
our provinces and colonies of New York, Connecticut, and East and West 
Jerseys, in America, and Territories thereunto belonging, in the room of 
the former judge, deceased, hereby granting unto you full power to take 
cognizance of, and proceed in all causes, civil and maritime, and in com- 
plaints, contracts, offences, or suspected offences, crimes, pleas, debts, ex- 
changes, policies of assurance, accounts, charter parties, agreements, bills 
of loading of ships, and all matters and contracts which, in any manner 
whatsoever, relate to freight due for skips, hired and let out, transport 
money or maritime usury, {otherwise bottomry), etc., etc." 

*Of considerable interest in this connection is a tract entitled "A Curiosity of Law, or a Respondent 
in the Supreme Judicial Court, as a Judge in the General Court, and what possibly came of it," by 
Elizur Wright, Boston, 1866. 

Chart No. 231 

Philadelphia Underwriters' Marine Insurance Policy 

This chart shows an original contract, issued in Philadelphia in the 
year 1791. The policy bears the signature of sixteen individual 
underwriters for sums from ^100 to .^200 sterling. The policy is of 
special historic interest on account of the fact that one of the under- 
writers (John Morton) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. 

Chart No. 232 

ENGLAND, A. D. 1792-1855 
Friendly Societies and Sickness Insurance 

The possibilities of utilizing life insurance methods in efforts to im- 
prove the economic condition of the poor were first suggested in a 
famous tract, entitled "Essays on Projects," by Defoe, the celebrated 
author of Robinson Crusoe, in 1697. It was soon realized that the 
thrift function, as reduced to its most simple form of individual saving, 
would be insufficient to meet the pecuniary needs of the poor in the 
event of sickness and premature death. A most interesting tract, 
suggestive of the early development of the function of saving, was 
published in 1677, under the title "The Worth of a Penny." It was not 
until near the end of the 18th century that the economic utility of 
friendly societies was clearly recognized, and in 1792, or the year 
before the passage of the Rose Act, a treatise was published, entitled 
"An appeal to the Public on the General Utility of Benefit Societies 
Instituted by and for the Relief of their Respective Members ; Proving 
the Necessity of Securing their Property by the Sanction of an Act 
of Parliament, with Remarks and Observations on the Present System 
of the Poor-La ws." Four years later there was published a treatise on 
"The Prevention of Poverty by Beneficial Clubs," by Edward Jones. 
In 1814 Jerome Count de Salis advanced "A Proposal for Improving 
the System of Friendly Societies, or of Poor Assurance Offices; and, 
by Increasing their Funds, Rendering, in Process of Time, on the 
Principle of Accumulation, all Parochial Taxation for the Relief of the 
Poor unnecessary." The chart shows a reproduction of the title pages 
of these three publications, which are now extremely rare. In addi- 
tion, facsimile copies of title pages are shown of a Report on Friendly 
Societies, exhibiting the Law of Sickness, as Deduced from Returns by 
Friendly Societies in Different Parts of Scotland. This was the fam.ous 
report drawn up by the Committee of the Highland Society, which for 
the first time presented sickness rates derived from insurance experi- 
ence. The report was issued in Edinburgh in 1824. A more impor- 
tant publication of Tables, showing the Amount of Contributions for 

providing Relief in Sickness and Old Age, for Payments at Death and 
Endowments for Children, was published in I^ondon, 1833, by John 
Finlaison, Government Actuary, and Recommended for the Use of 
Benefit Societies by John Tidd Pratt. This treatise emphasizes the 
progress made in the scientific development of sickness insurance as a 
first requisite for the actuarial solvency of the societies transacting this 
form of insurance. John Tidd Pratt was the Registrar of Friendly 
Societies in England and it was largely due to his indefatigable efforts 
that the methods of government supervision and control over these 
societies were materially improved. In 1855 Pratt issued some "Sug- 
gestions for the Establishment of Friendly Societies with Tables of 
Contributions for Payments in Sickness, etc., and also for the Purchase 
of Government Annuities, " authorized by the 16 and 17 Victoria, which 
laid the foundation for far-reaching ithprovements in friendly society 
management. All of the title pages reproduced in facsimile on this 
chart are of documents in the possession of The Prudential.* 

Chart No. 233 

The Insurance Company of North America 
This interesting chart contains eight facsimile reproductions of illus- 
trations and documents having a bearing on the early history of the 
first insurance corporation established in the United States, in 1792, 
which has survived to the present day. All of the documents shown 
are derived from the history of the company, published in 1885. The 
chart shows the first office building of the company, occupied during 
the years 1792-1794, a copV of a page of the first book of accounts, a 
copy of an act passed by the General Assembly, April 2, 1793, for the 
incorporation of what was then called "The Insurance Company of 
North America." A portrait of Eben Hazard, secretary of the com- 
pany, is shown, followed by the facsimile reproduction of four early 
marine and fire policies. The Insurance Company of North America 
had the right to transact life insurance business, but little was done in 
this field, which at the end of the 18th century was apparently of small 
promise in the United States. The first action on the part of the 
company with reference to the clause of the article of incorporation 
permitting life insurance was taken on January 20, 1794, when a 
committee was appointed to consider the issuing of a policy "for 
insuring persons against capture by Algerines." On February 11, 
1794, a Captain John Collett was insured "on his person against 
Algerines and other Barbary Corsairs in a Voyage from Philadelphia to 

*The Friendly Societies of England have been utiU^ed to a considerable extent in the establishment 
of national insurance in Great Britain in 1911. What is called an "Approved Society" is practically a 
Friendly Society receiving the contributions and administermg the benefits payable under the National 
Insurance Act. 

London, in the Ship George Barclay, himself Master, Valuing himself 
at $5,000," the premium being two per cent. This was apparently the 
first life policy issued by an insurance corporation in America. The 
practice to insure against the risk of capture was very ingenious, in 
that it provided the requisite amount usually exacted as ransom, which 
otherwise might not have been forthcoming. The practice was quite 
general at the time with Continental insurance companies, particularly 
those of Hamburg. 

Chart No. 234 

Original Policy Contract of the Insurance Company of North A merica 
The document shown on this chart is an original policy issued by the 
Insurance Company of North America and one of the earliest existing 
contracts of its kind. It is signed by Charles Pettit, the president of 
the company, whose portrait is reproduced on the chart. In addition, 
the chart shows a facsimile of the simple method of accounting in use 
by the company at the time. The policy is dated March 7, 1797. 

Chart No. 235 

Pennsylvania Company for Insurances on Lives and Granting Annuities 
All of the documents exhibited on this chart are originals. The policy 
is dated May 13, 1822. It is a contract of exceptional historic interest 
signed jointly by the president of the company, Mr. R. M. Patterson, 
and the actuary, Mr. Jacob Shoemaker. The chart also shows an 
original application for life insurance, a table of premium rates, and the 
title page of an address from the president and directors, together with 
a copy of a portion of the act incorporating the company, under date 
of March 10, 1812. A table of premium rates is reproduced below: 















One Year 


Seven Years 
Annual Premium 


Whole I.ife 
Annual Premium 
































Chart No. 236 


Two Early American Life Insurance Companies 

The documentary records of early American life insurance companies 
which have been preserved or made available are quite rare. The 
official literature is available to-day for only a few institutions organ- 
ized during the first half of the 19th century. The chart illustrates 
two typical early insurance companies, by pages from the original 
prospectuses of the Union Insurance Company of New York, estab- 
lished in 1818, and the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Com- 
pany of Boston, established in 1823. The hst of officers of the last- 
named institution shows that Mr. Nathaniel Bowditch was the actu- 
ary. The application for insurance was simple and the premium 
rates were limited to one year, seven years and for life. The chart 
also shows an original application for an annuity in trust as issued 
by the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company and the 
table of rates at which the company was willing to grant immediate 
annuities for $100 on a single life. An interesting insert is a small 
table of endowments on children, beginning with birth and ending 
with the twentieth year, the amounts insured for to be payable at the 
age of twenty-one, if then alive. 

Chart No. 237 


Slave Insurance in the South 

This was an extremely interesting form of insurance, for the twofold 
purpose of insuring slaves as cargo under marine insurance contracts 
and of providing life insurance protection for the owners in the usual 
form. The business was carried on by quite a number of institutions 
previous to the outbreak of the Civil War. The chart shows an original 
contract issued by the Louisiana Insurance Company for the amount 
of $25,200, the date of the policy beingMay 27, 1823. The policy msures 
the safe delivery of seventy-two slaves, valued at $350 each, for the 
term of the voyage from Norfolk to New Orleans, at the rate of l}i 
per cent. The policy specifically excludes the risk of natural death, 
insurrection, elopement, and suicide. The chart also shows an original 
copy of the prospectus of the Mutual Benefit Life and Fire Insurance 
Company of Louisiana and the rates charged for the insurance of 
negro slaves. In order to show the advantages to owners of negroes 
of insuring them, a list of the losses paid by the company, giving the 

names of owners and the causes of death of slaves, is given.* It is of 
interest in this connection to add that beginning with May, 1845, 
the New York Life Insurance Compiany insured slaves, and it is stated 
in the history of that company that of the first thousand policies 
issued 339 were on the lives of negroes. The amounts were usually less 
than $500. The first death claim paid by the company was under a 
slave policy. The issue of such contracts was discontinued by 
direction of the trustees on April 19, 1848. Of equal interest is the 
early practice of the Manhattan Life of New York, which assumed 
risks on the lives of coolies transported to the Isthmus of Panama for 
the purpose of constructing the Panama Railway. An original policy 
of this kind has been preserved by the company, but it has not been 
feasible to show a facsimile of the same on the present chart. 

Chart No. 238 

Early American Insurance Companies 
This is a collection of title pages of e'ai-ly life insurance prospectuses, 
commencing with the proposals and r^ates of the Pennsylvania Insur- 
a'nce Compa'ny for Insurances on Lives and Granting Annuities. The 
company was incorporated March 10, 1812, under a perpetual charter, 
with a capital of $500,000. This was the first American life insurance 
company. The office, in 1845, was at No. 66 Walnut street. The 
president of the company at that time was Mr. Hyman Gratz, and the 
actuary Mr. WilUam B. Hill. 

The Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company was estab- 
lished in 1823. The title page of the Proposals is for the year 1835. 
The offices of the company at this time were at No. 50 State street, 

The Rates and Proposals of the New York Life Insurance and 
Trust Company are for the year 1830. The office of the company was 
at No. 38 Wall street. The act of incorporation was dated March 19, 

The first life insurance company of the central west was the Ohio 
Life Insurance and Trust Company, of Cincinnati. The first annual 
report was issued under date of December 24, 1835. The failure of 
the company in 1857 was the immediate cause of the panic of that 

*SIave insurance was also transacted by the Southern Mutual Insurance Company of Mobile. Ala., 

which, under date of February 1, 1851, issued a special set of instructions, according to which slaves 

performing the duties of house servants, field hands, and general laborers, ages 20-30, were accepted at 

a premium of 4.5 per cent.; but for slaves employed as boat hands navigating waters emptying into 

Mobile Bay or engaged in the lake trade to New Orleans, a premium of 7,5 per cent, was charged. 

Another company transacting slave insurance was the Lexington Fire, Life and Marine Insurance 

Company, chartered by the Legislature of Kentucky in 1836. This company charged a premium of 

$2.62 per $100 of insurance on the life of a slave at age 30, whereas the corresponding rate on the life 

of a white person was $1.31, or exactly one-half. For a brief discussion of insurance in the South, see 

my article "Life Insurance in the South,'' in "The South in the Building of the Nation," 1865-1910, 

Vol. 6, ij. 625. 


year. The life business of the company, however, was reinsured, and 
the policyholders sustained no loss. 

The first company established in the United States on strictly 
mutual principles was the Mutual lyife Insurance Company of New 
York, organized in 1842. The title page in the present collection is of 
a treatise on life insurance published by this company in 1844 as an 
explanation of the principles and of the useful application of the 
mutual system to the different situations of life, including a sum- 
mary of its charter, its progress, terms and conditions of insurance, 
and mode of effecting it. 

One of the earliest life insurance companies of the South was the 
Mutual Benefit Life and Fire Insurance Company of Louisiana, in- 
corporated in April, 1849. This prospectus contains the plans, 
principles, regulations and rates. The home office of the company was 
at No. 38 Camp street. New Orleans. 

A propectus entitled, "Life Insurance, Its Principles, Operations 
and Benefits, as Presented by the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance 
Company of Hartford," was published in 1852. The company had 
been incorporated in 1846. 

An interesting tract circulated at about the same time was a small 
treatise on "Practical Reasons and Illustrations of the Necessities of 
Life Insurance as a Duty," published in New York, 1852. 

One of the most interesting documents in this collection is the 
circular of California Life Insurance, offered by a company the name 
of which is not known, with a guaranteed capital of $100,000, and an 
office at No. 4 State street. The circular was issued at Boston, 
October, 1849, or soon after the discovery of gold in CaUfornia. 
The leafi[et gives the premiums for the insurance of $100 on the 
one-year, seven-year, and whole-life plans. It is particularly urged 
that, "Persons leaving for California may obtain all necessary in- 
formation on application at the office. No. 4 State street." 

The New England Mutual Life Insurance Company was incorpor- 
ated in 1835 and commenced business in 1843. A prospectus on the 
basis, principles and regulations of the company calls attention to the 
fact that the net accumulations by November 1, 1855, had reached 
$745,000. The president of the company was Mr. Willard PhiUips, a 
distingusihed authority on the law of insurance. 

The Hartford Life Insurance Company was incorporated under date 
of May, 1849, with a capital of $100,000. 

The State Mutual Life Assurance Company, of Worcester, was 
incorporated in 1844, and the title page of the prospectus refers to the 
charter and by-laws, the guaranteed capital of $100,000, and the 
explanation of the principles and plans upon which the company was 
established, with practical observations on the various situations and 

circumstances in which Hfe insurance may be employed, and the terms 
and the mode of effecting insurance. The office of the company was at 
No. 98 Main street, Worcester. 

Chart No. 239 

ENGI.AND, A. D. 1545-1854 
Evolution of Industrial Insurance in England 
In 1853 a Select Committee of the House of Commons, on Assurance 
Associations, made a report, which, with other important observa- 
tions, included £he suggestive statement that "Your Committee feel 
that the ground hitherto occupied by these useful institutions (Ordi- 
nary life insurance companies) has been comparatively limited and 
that their application is capable of a great extension not only among 
the higher and model classes of society, but also among the humbler 
classes, to whom it has recently been very considerably applied." 
Largely influenced by this suggestion, the Prudential Assurance Com- 
pany of London, which had been organized for the transaction of 
Ordinary business, in 1848, commenced to issue, in 1854, policies for 
small amounts, on the principle of family insurance, with the premium 
payments collected weekly from the houses of the insured. The re- 
markable success of this new form of insurance was largely due to the 
indefatigable efforts of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Henry Harben, at that 
time the secretary and subsequently the president of the company. 
Industrial insurance forms the connecting link between the early provi- 
dent institutions of England, as typified by the ancient gilds and the 
more modern burial and friendly societies. The chart includes a brief 
historical reference to the evolution of Industrial insurance and the 
chronology of the principal acts of parliament having reference to 
friendly societies and Industrial insurance companies. It has also 
seemed fitting to include in the chart an early portrait of Sir Henry 
Harben, who was born in 1823 and who died December 2, 1911. The 
Prudential Assurance Company, as measured by the number of policies 
in force (20,695,226 on December 31, 1913), is the largest life insurance 
company in the world. 

Chart No. 240 

Evolution of Industrial Insurance in A merica 
Largely influenced by the English agitation for reform in friendly- 
society management and general life insurance practice as reflected 
in some of the early reports of the Insurance Commissioners for 
Massachusetts and New York, Mr. (afterwards U. S. Senator) John 
F. Dryden, in 1875, established in the city of Newark, N. J., THE 

conformity to the fundamental principles of Industrial insurance, suc- 
cessfully developed by the Prudential Assurance Company of England. 
The original title of The Prudential Insurance Company of America 
was The Prudential Friendly Society, it having, at the outset, been 
Mr. Dryden's intention to develop a national provident institution 
insuring not only payments at death but also amounts payable in the 
event of sickness and small annuities in old age. Actual experience 
soon demonstrated that this project could not be carried through, and 
the business of the Company was therefore subsequently limited to the 
insurance of sums payable at death. In 1886, however, the Company 
commenced also the issue of Ordinary policies, and on December 31, 
1913, 60.8 per cent, of the Company's business, as measured by 
amount, was on the Industrial plan, and 39.2 per cent, on the Ordi- 
nary plan. The chart exhibits four photographic illustrations of the 
buildings occupied by the Company at different periods, from a small 
basement office, at 812 Broad Street, to a group of four large office 
buildings, at 761 Broad Street, and adjoining properties. A model of 
the buildings is shown elsewhere in this exhibit. The chart also shows 
a photographic reproduction of the first application for insurance 
received by The Prudential and accepted on November 10, 1875, and 
an early steel engraving of the late Mr. Dryden, together with a brief 
historical note regarding the present status of Industrial insurance in 
the United States.